Manimal, and why you can never go back..

I'd been waiting for Manimal to come through from Lovefilm for a while. I'd pre-reserved it for rental even before it was available, remembering it fondly from watching it as a child. I can recall my excitement as he'd change into different animal forms to solve problems, and my first exercises in breathing control as I sought to emulate his metamorphoses...

In hindsight, however, I should have left those memories well alone - though I retain my fond childhood memories, I now know how thoroughly rose-tinted those glasses are.

It goes far beyond the now badly-dated special effects, and extends into the terrible writing; "JC's" back story has more holes than a sieve (an English college professor working for American Intelligence during the Vietnam War, of all things), the poor scripting & characterisation of all the protagonists (the attractive female police officer / detective - unclear which! - most of all), his clothes tearing as he transforms into a panther and magically reappearing, un-torn and freshly pressed, when he transforms back, and the lack of explanation for what happens to the additional mass as he transforms into a bird of prey, or a pussy cat are just some of the problems with the first episode.. Only a humorous scene (overlooked by childhood me) where a transformed pussy cat peeks down a female criminal mastermind's open top saved the episode from being a complete loss..

The moral of this story, for me, is to be careful with treasured childhood memories, and to leave those fond recollections safely on the shelf, gathering dust, lit by the warm glow of both innocence and distance in time.

Beware the opening of Pandora's Box, especially when it contains a DVD from a childhood TV series...

some initial thoughts on the discipline of writing...

I was listening to Back to Work the other day (a great show, which you can find at 5by5.tv/b2w) - and Merlin was speaking about the discipline of writing - both in finding the right time to write (which for me often seems to be far too late at night!), and in defining some set periods for regular writing to enable good creative work (he suggested 90 minute spells). I'm intending to give both of these a try in the coming weeks, but they've definitely resonated with me (in a way much of Merlin's advice does).

My current issues with writing fall into 3 broad categories - energy, creativity and focus. I'm hoping that a more disciplined approach to writing will initially help with the last one, and that this will over time support improvements with creativity.  I'm hoping that my energy levels will improve with renewed creative vigour, forming a virtuous circle.

I'll be reporting on my success with this as my blog progresses - but I'm hoping that increasing frequency and quality of posting will demonstrate tangibly how I'm progressing and improving..

The specific episode is at: http://5by5.tv/b2w/82

the hypocrisy of the apology

Public life, and the media in general, has been inundated in recent years by demands for apologies from people in prominent positions, once their various misdemeanours or wrong-doings have come to light, and therein lies the problem.

As a child I was led to understand that apologies needed to be timely and believable. Heartfelt optional. Apologies generally came once my misdemeanour had been caught, but their purpose was to teach me, a child, that certain behaviour was unacceptable to my parents - that certain behaviour needed to be addressed.

So I find myself asking - what purpose do these laggardly, often miserly, apologies serve..? For those sinning, do they demonstrate remorse?

If so, I find it suspicious that they come only *after* the light has been cast upon their actions.. Is it recognition of the harm that they have done to others..? Again, I find it suspicious that these apologies are often all but coerced, and only once others have discovered their wrongdoings. 

Now, I do not necessarily believe in apologies that do nothing but salve the conscience of the guilty-party - I believe that actions, carried out with commitment, must be the coin that purchases forgiveness - of oneself, if not of the offended - but by this same token the act of apology in and of itself signifies nothing...

So, for those offended or harmed - do they benefit from the apology? A genuine acknowledgement of their pain or grievance can absolutely give some form of comfort, or relief, but I question how genuine a coerced (or be-lawyered) apology can ever be. If there are positive actions that follow the apology, those too are to be welcomed (even if they look to prevent future issues, rather than directly redressing those originally impacted). But such actions, unless instigated by the responsible party, must be recognised as stemming from those who brought the wrongdoing to light, not to those who, brought to the brink, consent to apologise.

I accept that this doesn’t address the minority of people who simply didn’t realise that they’d caused harm, and who didn’t conspire to hide their mis-doings. They, once confronted by the inadvertent impacts of their actions are frequently genuine in their apologies, and their subsequent actions.

So, my conclusions:

- If someone forces you to apologise, there is little value, except as a learning experience (and, unless you’re a child, you should be fairly embarrassed to require such a lesson...)

- If the apology lags the mis-doing by a prolonged period - weeks, months, years - it appears that (in most cases) it is a false apology - with little real remorse (other than for having one’s misdemeanours brought to life)

- Actions speak louder than words. Words by themselves are hot air and signify nothing. Only actions that demonstrate remorse, learning and the desire to address the failures are of value. 

I consider these to be useful benchmarks against which to weigh the value of public apologies.

I think of examples such as Gruenenthal's (very) belated apology for the Thalidomide issues in the 1950s, the results of the recent independent report into the Hillsborough incident in 1989, a number of recent issues in the finance industry, and I suspect they do not meet my standards for a reasonable apology.

I wonder if they meet yours..?